media

Advertising an Issue, Then & Now

While we can laugh at the 70’s style , the ‘crying Indian’ ad is still legendary in environmental circles. It rallied a nation to care about their environment, and to support creation of clean air and water regulations.

What strikes me today is how light the pollution and litter look.

The Issue has Changed & So Has Marketing

Compared to what washes up along the Potomac River today, the video’s litter looks cute. At this year’s annual river cleanup, volunteers removed over 300,000 pounds of plastic bags and bottles, foam cups (all light weight materials) in three hours. Walk the shore a week after and it’s covered again; the tide of trash is relentless.

The Ferguson Foundation has been working on river cleanup for 28 years. When I first took part in 2003 they called their effort “Trash-Free Potomac 2013.” They’ve since dropped the date. But the work goes on, and it really engages people to care about the river.

But there’s worse things fouling the waters. Excess ‘nutrients’ from farms, sewage, run-off and lawn fertilizers are choking our streams, rivers and bays with aquatic plant overgrowth and algal blooms. This disturbs and eventually ruins habitats, and can even create dangerously toxic conditions. 

Few people take time to consider how lawn chemicals, street run-off or farm waste are affecting their natural environment. There are campaigns to educate the public, but they aren’t as widely seen as the public service campaigns of the 70’s.

This video by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is probably only viewed by people on their mailing lists or or those who seek them out. Too long for TV, it’s not likely to reach as broad an audience as our Indian, above.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years. Habitat destruction, poaching and pollution have eliminated half of the living creatures on the planet.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is a consequence of the way we choose to live. Nature, which provides food and clean water and air, is essential for human wellbeing.”

That we need marketing to convince us the the natural world is essential strikes me as absurd, but in our busy-busy world it’s somehow become the norm to take the natural world for granted.

One of the biggest challenges today is the multitude of media channels, unimaginable in the 70s. Network TV no longer reaches families – people from multiple generations -watching the evening news together at the dinner table.

Messages must be targeted not only in content but especially by delivery. I recently marketed a musical event relying heavily on Twitter and Facebook, and missed a swath of an older audience. Not a mistake I will make again!

If you had to mount a campaign to protect your favorite cause, where would you start?

How would you prioritize the audience? What channels would you choose to reach them, and why?

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Fonts These Days!

This Chart gave me some laughs…

click for larger image

But seriously, fonts these days!! For us old-timers, we’ve lived through pixelated, then Postscript fonts. Then came utilities to help us manage the technical and artistic confusion: Suitcase and Adobe Type Manager.   TrueType and OpenType came along trying to simplify how software and printers processed font data.

Today we have Google fonts and all their digital cousins, and an open-source bonanza of new fonts, free and for hire.

How do you manage your fonts?

Here’s an article that reviews a number of options from Spoon Graphics. I’m looking forward to exploring some of these in more detail.

I have been relying on Font Book for a while now, and longing for something that would let me use a limited set for every day but ‘go shopping’ for styles and font faces by category when I needed them. I plan to try the free version of Font Explorer to see if it might help, and I’ll report in.

But I really want to hear from you. Let me know what font managing solutions have worked for you, or if you try any of these recommendations, how they work out.

 

Twitter Demystified

Twitter can look like a stream of chaos or frivolous chatter to the untrained eye. But there’s gold in that chaos. Strategic use of Twitter can harness the power of Social Media like nothing else.

Hashtag2The secret is the #Hashtag, a special keyword that allows you to follow a thread conversation within all the noise.

A hashtag is simply a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic. For example, right now if you type #CivilWar you will gather thousands of tweets about the latest Marvel movie, Captain America – Civil War, rather than the 19th century American war between the states.

Other examples

#aCreativeDC is a hashtag to promote arts, events and artists in Washington, DC. #Preakness2016 is for the upcoming Triple Crown horserace. Don’t confuse it with the ‘@‘ sign— that designates a Tweeter. Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist has his own Twitter account: @TheNyquistHorse and my Twitter handle is @ClearlyCreate

Some are just fun: go try #RemoveALetterSpoilABook for some laughs.

Twitter has some good tutorials on the basics, and here’s a bit more on marketing with Twitter.

Go experiment with hashtags and see what kind of conversations you can follow, like a favorite TV show or movie. Discover how businesses are using hashtags to promote their products by following a few B2B and B2C companies.

And feel free to ask questions and share your stories!

Christmas Time Blessing to All

Advertising can indeed be a thing of beauty.

Enjoy this beautifully told tale of friendship, gifts and shared holidays:

This animated holiday ad was created for John Lewis,the UK retailer by Laurent Simon and Aidan McClure of DDB Worldwide. I highly recommend watching the Behind the Scenes video. It’s a combination of stop-motion and hand drawn animation that’s quite extraordinarily detailed.

US Lagging in Broadband Access

The US Ranks 16th Among Developed Nations for Broadband Penetration

Data Suggests It Will Continue to Fall Behind

From BROADBAND NOW: According to the 2013 analysis by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) an international organization designed to stimulate world trade, the US now ranks 16th (down from 14th in 2010) for wired broadband penetration behind Korea, Canada, and New Zealand.[1]While there are several factors that can skew these statistics such as geography and population density, the problem of the US falling behind in broadband penetration is only exacerbated by inadequate competition.

Based on further data collected by the OECD, the US now ranks 24th out of 31 participant countries when it comes to the speed as which broadband penetration is increasing. [2]

Change in broadband penetration across OECD countries between 2010 and 2013.
Rank Country Penetration 2010 Penetration 2013 Percent Change
1 Switzerland 37.1% 43.82% 6.71%
2 Greece 18.71% 24.7% 5.99%
3 France 31.4% 36.99% 5.58%
4 New Zealand 24.49% 29.45% 4.95%
5 United Kingdom 30.48% 34.89% 4.41%
6 Portugal 18.92% 23.15% 4.22%
7 Finland 26.36% 30.46% 4.1%
8 Belgium 30% 33.99% 3.99%
9 Hungary 18.66% 22.25% 3.59%
10 Czech Republic 13.73% 17.02% 3.29%
11 Germany 31.26% 34.53% 3.26%
12 Slovak Republic 12.02% 15.16% 3.14%
13 Spain 22.22% 25.3% 3.08%
14 Ireland 20.31% 23.31% 2.99%
15 Canada 30.06% 32.84% 2.78%
16 Austria 22.96% 25.64% 2.67%
17 Korea 34.43% 37.05% 2.62%
18 Chile 10.21% 12.75% 2.53%
19 Poland 13.07% 15.44% 2.37%
20 Denmark 37.34% 39.69% 2.35%
21 Norway 34.24% 36.59% 2.34%
22 Netherlands 37.78% 40% 2.21%
23 Australia 23.43% 25.64% 2.2%
24 United States 27.11% 29.27% 2.15%
25 Iceland 33.28% 35.12% 1.84%
26 Mexico 10.09% 11.87% 1.78%
27 Japan 26.28% 27.83% 1.55%
28 Turkey 9.43% 10.66% 1.23%
29 Italy 21.32% 22.41% 1.09%
30 Sweden 31.75% 32.33% 0.57%
31 Luxembourg 34.11% 32.65% -1.47%

References and Footnotes

  1. 2013 Data Set: http://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/1k-BBPenetration-GDPperCap-2013-06.xls
  2. 2010 Data Set: http://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/39574903.xls

Communication Takes the World Stage

I give you but a few of many thoughts on the mediasphere since the terrorist acts in Paris of last week:

Artists respond to the attack on Charlie Hebdo:

Former Nun asks “What Does this Serve?

Terry Nicholetti, actor, author and founder of Speak Out Girlfriend has worked in women’s empowerment and human services since leaving the convent years ago. She’s a dear friend of mine and woman of deep compassion and love for humanity.

As we discussed the Charlie Hebdo shootings, she asked: “what purpose does it serve to publish a cartoon that deeply offends and outrages the religious sensibilities of the largest religious group on the planet?” It’s a good question.

My answer is that the purpose is satire, for stimulation of debate in the public sphere. Terry was persistent in her concern is that publishing material known to be outrageously offensive is going to have predictable, and devastating, results. Does the presenter of such speech bear responsibility for the dreadful result?

Indeed, Pope Francis spoke to this very idea during his trip to Manila on Thursday:

“You cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people’s faith, you cannot mock it,” the pontiff said. “Freedom of speech is a right and a duty that must be displayed without offending.”

“People who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others are provocateurs,” Francis said, and went on to draw a parallel to his friend insulting his mother. “He can expect a punch. There is a limit.”

To those used to America’s free speech tradition, which champions the freedom to give offense over the right to be protected from it, Francis’s statements may sound uncomfortably similar to victim blaming. But they are actually very close to many European countries’ positions on the limits of free speech. [from VOX] 

While I am most likely to take the side of the artists in this instance, another

A Feminist Muslim’s take on Charlie Hebdo

Steph is a writer who as a teenager was a forced convert to Islam and live under as she describes it religious mysogyny. In her post on the Charlie Hebdo shootings, she speaks about the burden of those silenced by radical religious ideology enforced by violence.

I spent a good chunk of life controlled by a radical religious ideology, and another chunk too scared to talk honestly about it. My experience, and the experiences of many who are marginalised, controlled, and silenced by radical Islam, is that the figures of authority responsible for spreading the rhetoric of terrorism do indeed have power and privilege. They aggressively tout misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic dogma, and they control individuals, families, communities, and sometimes whole states through fear. So, personally, I find living in a society where I’m free to ridicule terrorists who want to dictate the terms of free speech, and have me stripped of my autonomy and my right to laugh and poke fun, a very comforting thing indeed.

You can read her entire fascinating and provocative post at her blog,  ReImagining My Reality.

 

The West Should Examine its Conscience

In an article on CNN.com, noted philosopher Noam Chomsky challenges the eWest to examine the hypocrisy of our outrage, considering a string of reprehensible acts such as the 1999 NATO attack on Serbian media and the US led ‘War on Terror,’ which Chomsky called “Barack Obama’s global assassination campaign targeting people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby.”

Read the entire op-ed piece at CNN.com here.

 

One Last Thing…

The Gift of Typography

jensong-giftWe lately herald our digital culture with much pride; well deserved, it is a  significant achievement. I recently saw The Imitation Game, a film which will give you a great appreciation for the dawn of our data-driven age. But there is another powerful and under-appreciated media, and it’s right under your nose every day.

That marvel of human ingenuity would be roman typography: a standardized letterform for written European language. A mere 550 years ago, all of your books and papers were hand-scribed in precise blackletter calligraphy by highly skilled scribes. The first printed books including Gutenburg’s bible were printed with blackletter fonts that mimicked the blackletter style.

Biblia latina, with handwritten Lombardic capitals in red & blue. Rome: Sweynheym & Pannartz, 1471. Image courtesy of Austrian National Library

The first known Bible printed in roman type is at left, from 1471. Not until early in the 16th century when the Reformation took hold were roman-print Bibles produced in any quantity.

‘Roman’ type is the first font family designed specifically for printing technology. It was derived from the inscriptions on Roman architecture, and, with the development of lowercase letterforms and refinements for readability, became the alphabet we consume today, and take for granted as written language.

So this holiday season, if you read the Holy Bible (or anything for that matter!) take a moment to appreciate the futurists of the 1400s who brought us the printed book. They laid the groundwork for your Kindle and this very blog.

Creativity as Dialog

According to the New York Times, we are watching the end of the lone genius. I’ll be the first to agree that the isolated creative is a myth that has outlived its usefulness. Too many depictions of a tormented Vincent Van Gogh, a drunken and depressed Hemingway, even Newton as the singular discoverer, who was building on the work of others.

An article by Joshua Wolf Shenk in today’s NYT, The End of Genius, deftly unwraps the modern construct of our mythical loner. (Shenk writes more about the brilliance of creative pairs in the Atlantic, HERE.) The word originally meant “a tutelary god or spirit given to every person at birth” – a Muse as it were. In our modernity we have apparently absorbed this creative god and ascribed its qualities to our individual selves.

 

Now the creative network is emerging as a more useful model of the process.  Certainly  the internet and virtual communication has enhanced our ability to collaborate in teams and groups. We have crowd-sourced encyclopedias, music written and produced by partners who have never met, and ease of collaboration via the media that gives us instant contact.

Of course, this is nothing new.  All creative work builds on what came before. But we are  thinking about this differently. We’re evolving the way we inhabit our creative identity.

So let’s talk about it:

  • Do you work with a creative partner?
  • Do you use technology to collaborate?
  • Does the media influence your creative product?

 

Too Much Communication

manymediaAll of us wrangle ‘information overload’ but that’s not exactly what I had in mind. I was struck by a story I read this week over at Linked In’s Best Advice column, written by Jon Whitmore, CEO of ACT:

In this tale of a young dean in the mid 90’s, Jon relates this good advice he got from a seasoned mentor.

You Can Never Have Too Much Good Communication. 

This simple advice led him from his sense of overwhelm,  to graph paper, and hopefully quickly to a spreadsheet, in order to map the relationships he needed to maintain, and the channels he had available to reach them.

Constant, clear, transparent communication: it’s never easy, but it will always be critical to your success as a leader.

The secret is to take ‘Too Much’ and turn it into ‘Good’: timely, intriguing, meaningful and in the right place.

TIMELY: Catch your audience when they are receptive, and when they can make the most use of the information.
INTRIGUING: Noticeable amid all the competition, well written and well designed.
MEANINGFUL: Inspires, solves a problem, creates good will, connects ideas or people in a new way, calls the reader to action.
OPTIMUM CHANNEL: Delivered via the right platform, vehicle, media, or network, and combination there of.

I’m reaching for my mental graph paper! You can see why a coordinated strategy is necessary; in order to consistently hit the right notes, there has to be a good plan.

I’ll have more to say about how to reach our audience in the weeks to come, and I’d love to hear your ideas about how you develop and refine your communications strategy. Please, chime in!